SkySafari

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
SkySafari App Poster Image
Beautiful astronomy resource is rich with information.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about astronomy by viewing planets, stars, and celestial bodies; searching for specific objects of interest; or looking at noteworthy astronomical sightings in that night's sky. They can also read more about each astronomical body and term in the help section. Kids can get a detailed picture of the movement of objects in the sky over time by viewing movements by the year, month, day, hour, minute, or second for one hundred years into the past and future. SkySafari is a breathtakingly beautiful and amazingly rich resource for kids to learn about, see, and appreciate astronomy.

Ease of Play

Though the entry-level version is targeted to amateur astronomers, kids need to have a basic understanding of astronomy and how to adjust settings on the mobile device (like adjusting the compass) to fully utilize SkySafari.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that SkySafari is a powerful mobile planetarium that uses GPS location to view the night sky. The app comes in three versions for Android: SkySafari ($2.99), SkySafari Plus ($14.99), and SkySafari Pro ($39.99); and six versions for iOS: SkySafari 3 ($2.99), SkySafari 3 Plus ($14.99), SkySafari 3 Pro ($39.99), SkySafari 4 ($.99) SkySafari 4 Plus ($7.99), and SkySafari 4 Pro ($19.99). The Plus and Pro versions add larger databases with more stars, telescope control, views from the solar system, and more features. The databases, even on the entry-level versions, are large, requiring up to 940 MB of free space depending on the platform.

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What's it about?

SKYSAFARI is a point-and-identify sky map that includes the major planets and moons; tens of thousands of stars; 220 of the best-known star clusters; and nebulae, galaxies, asteroids, comets, and more. Kids need to enable the compass on their device (which is on the bottom of the screen when the app is open) and point the device at the sky. They can also view the night sky for any time up to one hundred years in the past or future. Using the search function, kids can find specific objects in the night sky, guided by arrows showing them where to point the device.

Is it any good?

SkySafari makes it possible to view space from a small device kids can hold in their hands. The images come from NASA space missions, the Hubble Space Telescope, and astro-photographers -- and are beautiful. In addition to viewing the night sky -- past, present, and future -- kids can read details about each planet, galaxy, star, and object. A neat feature in the search function is "Tonight's Best," which lists the objects in the night sky that are best for viewing that evening.

SkySafari works wonderfully alongside a telescope, so kids familiar with viewing the night sky through a telescope will adapt easily to using SkySafari to its fullest capabilities. Kids who are interested in identifying constellations and stars can do that, but Mobile Observatory is easier to navigate.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Explore the universe together, making a plan of which sky objects you'll look for.

  • View the list of local astronomy events and attend one together.

  • If you live near a planetarium or an observatory, visit it together to learn more about our solar system.

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